Toddler Approved: Cheesy Chicken Broccoli and Rice

Toddler Approved: Cheesy Chicken Broccoli and Rice
Cheesy Chicken Broccoli and Rice

My mom made a version of this when I was a kid and my sister and I recently reminisced about it. I requested the recipe from mom and was surprised at how easy it was to make. I was less surprised at how much Miss A loved it. She loves just about anything with rice.

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Toddler Approved: Cheesy Chicken Broccoli and Rice
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Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli and Rice

My opinion:
Next time I’ll add onions and garlic and use two blocks of cheese, one mixed in and one to make a bechamel sauce (similar to this one). I’m just not a fan of cheddar cheese soup and broccoli cheese soup.

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli and Rice
Yum

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Avocado Chicken Salad

There’s a dish at one of the best places to eat in town, but unfortunately it is only on the spring and summer menu, which isn’t out yet. With the extra warm weather this weekend, we decided to try our hand at making the same dish at home. We seriously lucked out. With a few modifications, this recipe is a near exact copy and was amazing.

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Avocado Chicken Salad
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Ingredients
Servings
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Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Roast the chicken in the oven at 375 degrees, spiced with your favorite Mexican seasoning, we like chili lime.
  2. Cook at least 30 minutes or until cooked through.
  3. Dice the onions and the celery in a food processor.
  4. When the chicken is cooked and slightly cooled, shred it with a fork or in the food processor. If you prefer your chicken salad a bit chunky, feel free to dice it instead.
  5. We added the shredded chicken to the food processor and then added the avocados and spices. If you prefer it a bit chunky, just mix everything together in a bowl.
  6. Taste and add lime juice and salt as needed.
  7. When ready to eat, toast the bread.
  8. We brushed both sides with olive oil and toasted each side until browned.

My opinion:
I was starving, so we didn’t wait for this to chill. In the summer, we will definitely chill the mixture for at least 30 minutes. Also, next time we’ll add a bit more cumin and maybe some more lime juice. This would be equally delicious with cucumber slices and bread. If you’d like it a little spicier, feel free to add a jalapeño. We will probably add some serranos from the garden this summer.

p.s. Summer 2016 update: Our toddler adores this dish. we just have to shred the chicken instead of cutting it into chunks and she gobbles it up! 

Chicken Fried Steak

Jason had been craving this for a solid two weeks before we had a chance to make it from this recipe. Despite the hot oil concerns, it was pretty easy and absolutely delicious.

Ingredients:
2 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided (leave 1 teaspoon for the gravy)
1 3/4 teaspoons black pepper, divided (leave 1 teaspoon for the gravy)
4 (4 ounce) cube steaks
38 saltine crackers, crushed (we used a whole sleeve in a ziplock bag with a rolling-pin. Great for aggression relief!)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided (1/4 cup is for the gravy)
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 3/4 cups milk, (divided into 4 cups and 3/4 cup)
2 large eggs
3 1/2 cups Vegetable Oil (you want enough to cover at least half the coated steaks)

Directions:
Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper evenly over steaks. Set aside. Combine cracker crumbs, 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, red pepper, and baking powder into a shallow dish. Whisk together 3/4 cup milk and eggs. Dredge steaks in cracker mixture; dip in milk mixture, and dredge again in cracker mixture. Pour oil into a 12″ skillet; heat to 360 degrees (do not use a nonstick skillet, we used the cast iron skillet). Fry steaks 3-4 minutes.

 

Turn and fry 2-3 minutes or until golden. Remove steak to wire rack over a cookie sheet to let it drain. Keep steaks warm in a 225 degree oven.

Carefully drain hot oil, reserving cooked bits and 1 tablespoon of oil in dripping in skillet. Whisk together remaining 4 cups of milk, 1/4 cup of flour, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1 teaspoon black pepper. Add milk mixture to reserved drippings in skillet; cook, whisking constantly, over medium-high heat for 10-12 minutes, or until thickened. You’ll think this is never going to come together. Keep whisking. After about 5 minutes it should start to come together. Whisk for a few minutes after you think you should stop. Should be a light grey color at first and darken slowly. Serve gravy with steaks.

My opinion:
Disclaimer: Be careful draining the oil. And don’t send it down the sink! Find a metal coffee can or other receptacle to help with this. Obviously, hot oil is hot. Be careful! As for the dish, it’s the right amount of salty and rich. I don’t normally love gravy, but topping the steaks with this gravy makes the dish. It’s even better the next day, though not as crispy.

Green Chicken Enchiladas


Using the tomatillo salsa recipe as a base, we made these amazing Green Chicken Enchiladas. While a bit time consuming, the recipe makes more than enough to freeze half and reheats very well. If you plan to freeze, just leave off the cheese!

Ingredients:
1/4 to 1/2 cup tomatillo salsa (for the chicken mixture), plus 1/4 for the bottom of the pan and about 1/2 to 2/3 cup for the top (under the cheese)
2 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium Onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon Ground cumin
1/4 cup All-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
Chopped cilantro leaves
3 pounds boneless, skinless Chicken breasts
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 large Flour tortillas (we used the burrito sized ones)
1/2 pound Monterey Jack (or Mexican blend) cheese, shredded
2 cups Sour cream, if desired
Chopped tomatoes and cilantro leaves for garnish, if desired

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roast chicken in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until cooked though.  Let cool and then shred.  Set aside. For more flavor, season the chicken with salt, pepper and cumin prior to roasting.  While the chicken is roasting, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and caramelized , approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin then cook for another minute. Sprinkle on the flour and stir to ensure the flour doesn’t burn.  Gradually add the chicken stock. Continue stirring over a low simmer until the flour cooks and the liquid thickens. Turn off the heat, add 1/4 cup of the tomatillo salsa and some additional fresh chopped cilantro and fold in the shredded chicken meat. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

To make the Enchiladas, take a large baking dish and smear the bottom with some of the reserved tomatillo salsa. Mix the salsa, cheese and the chicken mixture together in a bowl.  Put a scoop of the shredded chicken-enchilada mix  in an Enchilada. Fold the tortilla over the filling and roll to enclose it. Place the tortillas in the baking dish and continue to do the same with all eight tortillas. Finally pour the reserved enchilada sauce and top with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes until bubbly and cracked on top. Garnish with cilantro and tomato, sour cream and guacamole if desired.

My opinion:
Perfect for a hot, summer evening.

Szechuan Kung Pao Chicken


I love Chinese food. When I was younger and my sister and I got to pick the restaurant for our birthday dinner, I always chose the local Chinese restaurant. As I grew up, I loved trying the flavors of the different provinces, but Szechuan has remained a favorite. J found this recipe from Big Oven (our new favorite go to recipe source). It was divine. I was so disappointed there wasn’t any left overs! The secret is in velveting the chicken. This crucial step is what makes all the difference.

Ingredients:
1 lb chicken thighs (we used two large boneless, skinless, chicken breasts)
10 whole red chili peppers (we left five whole)
1 small red onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic (original recipe calls for crushed, we used minced)
1/2 piece fresh ginger (crushed, we just tossed this in the food processor.)
Handful of roasted peanuts (we used unsalted and about a half cup)
Marinade:
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or Sherry (we used a dry sherry)
1 Egg white
1 tablespoon Cornstarch
Seasoning:
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or sherry (again, we used a dry sherry)
1 tablespoon dark vinegar (balsamic will do)
1 tablespoon Dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
1 scallion (we used a “bunch” of scallions from our garden)

Directions:
Dice chicken into half-inch cubes (We originally went a little too big, but you also don’t want to make these as small as they are in traditional Kung Pao dishes served in your local Chinese establishment.) Mix marinade, lightly beating the egg white and pour over the chicken. Leave to stand for no more than 30 minutes. Velvet the chicken with oil or water (again, this is the secret and makes a HUGE difference! We used the water method, but the oil method would work as well):
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Stir the chicken to separate and stir again. Simmer for about 2 minutes until the chicken turns white. Drain the chicken. Tear the chilis into pieces, then soak them in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain. Peel the onion and cut into square 1 1/2 inch pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the wok until very hot (until it starts to smoke). Add the garlic and ginger to the oil, stir for 15 seconds, then add the chilis and stir for a minute or two. Add the onions and continue to stir and flip for another minute. Add the chicken, scallion, peanuts and cook for another minute. After this, if you notice that it seems a little dry for your taste, feel free to mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with a little bit of water and pour in along with your seasoning. Give it a good quick stir (I mean it, be quick, the sugar will burn.) Serve with rice!

My Opinion:
Leaving the chilis in whole meant this dish was spicy. We liked it so much we actually added the left over rice to the wok in order to sop up all of the left over sauce. The chicken was tender, juicy and just amazing. Next time, we’ll add a bit more onion, ginger and garlic. Plus a green pepper for some added vegetables. This dish was so good I could eat it every single day for a long time and never grow bored.

p.s. If anyone one knows where to find Shaoxing wine in Columbia, let me know! I’m sure it would just add a bit more depth to the dish!